When you put your house on the market, it’s not uncommon to experience an initial pang of regret. However, if that regret becomes more than a simple case of cold feet or you feel like you need to hit refresh on your home sale altogether, know that you have options.
You can take down the for-sale sign, terminate your listing agreement with your agent, and remove online evidence of your listing online so long as you haven’t already gone under contract with a buyer. It’s your house—you can sell it. Or not sell it. You won’t be penalized by listing sites, and if you change your mind in the future, relisting your property won’t be any different.
However, taking your house on and off the market as you wish can come with setbacks. Depending on the fine print on your listing agreement with your real estate agent, removing your listing early could cost you a fee (though many agents will work with you on this depending on the situation). Listing your house for sale is also a lot of hassle to go through for nothing, and if you’ve spent any time or effort toward marketing your house or getting it in presentable shape, you can’t get a refund on that.
Removing your house from the market may only require a few clicks online, but it’s a weightier decision than, say, changing your profile picture on social media, so here we’ll cover:
- When it’s a good idea to take your house off the market
- How to switch real estate agents if you’re not happy with your representation
- Selling your property off-market
- How to take your listing down from the main real estate websites
Should you take your house off the market? 4 reasons to hit pause or start fresh with a new listing
There are good reasons, and some not-so-great justifications for taking your home off the market. Some motivations are entirely personal: maybe you’re not ready to let go of this house, you decide that it’s the wrong time for a move, a job relocation fell through, or your financial situation has changed. Others are specific to the transaction: you aren’t getting showings, you’re disappointed in your agent, or need to make changes to fetch stronger offers.
Your listing is collecting dust.
A listing that sits 60-90 days or more on the market with no offer is generally considered “stale.” There are exceptions to this depending on local market trends (perhaps all home sales are slow), you live in a remote area where demand is limited, or you’re selling a luxury property to a niche buyer type. But if you have concerns your listing has gone stale, consult with your agent for area specific “days on market” averages and see how your home compares.
If you feel your home’s been on the market too long, removing the listing gives you time to address the issues, reconsider your pricing strategy, and set your days-on-market counter back to zero. From there, you can address these common issues that could be working against you:
Your pricing strategy might’ve missed the mark this time around, and taking your house off the market can save you the dreaded price reduction on a listing that can make buyers wary. Once you take your home off the market, work with your real estate agent to determine a price strategy factoring in all the elements of your listing and the market.
Removing your listing and repricing is more like crossing out a sentence written in pen than erasing a pencil mark. Savvy buyers and their agents need only do some simple digging to discover that your home was on the market before, and at a different price point. Relisting for price adjustment alone can backfire in some cases.
Many buyers today are looking for turn-key homes, and it’s possible that your home just isn’t in marketable condition. If you decide to complete some heftier updates, it’ll be hard to keep the house clean and ready for showings through any type of renovation.
“In some cases our properties don’t sell at the price we list them,” explains Michael Pinter, who’s been flipping homes full-time since 2013. “We’ll renovate a room or two, and even in one case, a kitchen.” Instead of driving yourself crazy with a dustpan, take your home off the market until updates are complete.
Listings live and die by their marketing. If your listing hasn’t generated interest in showings, then you’ll want to revisit the marketing strategy to attract more buyers.Start fresh with a new listing description and take professional photos worthy of a magazine spread.
You’d like to work with a different agent.
Real estate market conditions and your buyer pool certainly play a part in selling your home, but so too does your relationship with your real estate agent. Your agent could be great in general, but they still might not be the right fit for you.
“Maybe you hired the wrong agent the first time and you racked up a bunch of days on the market. And so even if a new agent comes back in with the best marketing system, we are still working against their days on the market,” explains Jennifer Wemert, a top real estate agent in Orlando, Florida who sells homes 62% faster than average.
If you want to try relisting your home with a new agent, you can either:
- Wait for your contract with your current agent to expire, or
- Get your agent to agree to end your contract early
Based on the listing agreement you have with your agent, you might be required to pay a fee for canceling the contract early. However, most agents will find a way to work with you on this, explains Wemert: “If you’re not happy with our services, it’s most likely going to be a mutual decision and we want what’s best for you. In our contracts, we just cross the marketing fees out most of the time.”
If you decide to relist with a new agent, do some research on agents in your area to find a better fit for your style and your home. Experience selling similar homes, communication style, and their average days on market should weigh into your research (these are all factors HomeLight takes into account with its agent matching service).
If your contract doesn’t include an early termination clause, then you won’t incur any fees or penalties for removing your listing.
You’ve had a change of heart.
Maybe offers start rolling in, and instead of excitement, there’s dread in the pit of your stomach. It’s healthy to feel a ton of different emotions when selling your home, but how do you determine if this is a case of seller’s remorse, or a full blown mistake?
It might be time to go back to the drawing board and consider why you’re selling your home to begin with. If unfortunate circumstances have led to the sale, you might consider healthy methods for saying goodbye.
When in doubt, talk to your agent. If you’re not motivated or emotionally prepared to sell now, it might be time to pull your place from the market. Removing your listing because you don’t wait to leave is perfectly justifiable.
Sometimes circumstances change, and you decide now isn’t the right time to sell. Perhaps you’ve been recently laid off, the relocation fell though, or someone you love is facing an unexpected health issue.
In these cases, it’s rare for an agent to hold you to a listing agreement that includes a fee, says Wemert. “If your life experience changes, we don’t want to hold you hostage.”
Think twice about removing your listing if…
Removing your listing could be a great reset, but it’s not always the best decision. When the for-sale sign appears in your yard, it’s natural to have jitters or a knee jerk reaction to take it down. Try not to rush to any new strategies or change course just yet. Selling a home does take some time and patience, and resetting the clock on your sale won’t always be the answer.
Think twice about taking your house off the market if it’s for one of the reasons below.
You’ll be in a rush to relist.
If you plan to remove your home from the market to get a fresh days-on-market number, it’s not as simple as resetting a computer. Depending on what state you live in, you may need to wait before relisting your property on the MLS as new.
“In Florida, you have to stay off the market for 60 days before you can reset your days on market,” Wemert explains. In a seasonal market, you might choose to remove your listing over slow months, and relist it in the spring for a fresh start, adhering to the MLS guidelines.
You hope to hide the home’s listing history altogether.
Removing your listing can refresh days on market, “but it doesn’t erase the history of that property,” explains Wemert. “Savvy agents and consumers can see the history. It helps a little bit removing the stigma with the days on the market, but it doesn’t just erase the fact that they tried before.”
Just because it’s fall or winter.
Wemert urges sellers think twice about removing their listing from the market for the sole reason that it’s a slow season. “If we’re having trouble selling property, the worst idea is to take it off in the fall because we have less competition then,” she explains.
In a slower season, buyers have less options and your listing is more attractive. Spring isn’t the only time to sell a home—consult HomeLight’s Best Time to Sell Calculator to get a better idea of trends in your area. Don’t pull your listing just because temperatures are cooling down, it could be the time your offers start to heat up.
What about selling your property off-market?
In a hot market, you might remove your home from MLS and sell it off-market. This stops the endless parade of showings, and can give your home an air of exclusivity. Off-market listings, sometimes referred to as pocket listings will, on average, take longer to sell, since you’re not advertising your listing widely. If you’re in no rush to sell you home, or prefer the privacy of a more discreet sale without online listings, an off-market sale might be a good option for you.
You can sell your home in a pocket listing with or without an agent. Using an agent means access to a network of agents and potential buyers—remember this sale won’t be advertised on MLS, so the more word of mouth, the better.
If you want to remove your listing and sell your home off-market without your agent, be warned that you could face some legal action. Most real estate agents include a protection period or safety clause in their contracts, explains Wemert: “If we brought anyone to that property, even after we cancel within 180 days, we are protected on that sale.”
So if a buyer expresses interest in an off-market sale, but they were brought in by your agent, you could face legal action in the event of the sale.
Brass tacks: How to remove your listing from the market, if you so choose
You might’ve all but decided to take your house off the market, but it’s not over until you remove it from MLS and other real estate listing sites. It’s your agent’s responsibility to delete the MLS listing, explains Wemert.
“It’s very easy to pull it down off of the MLS. And usually when you pull it off there, it will pull it off all the other platforms as well.” It can take up to 24 hours for the listing to be removed from sites like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com.
If you’ve listed your home for sale by owner on Zillow, you can log into your account and delete the listing using the following steps.
- After logging in, go to My Zillow.
- Click Listings under My Zillow.
- In the menu, select Remove Listing.
- Select, No Longer for Sale from the drop down menu.
Trulia doesn’t have an option to remove third-party information from its site manually, but if your listing is still up after its removed from MLS, you can contact the site and ask that the photos of your property be removed.
If your listing is still showing up on Realtor.com 24 hours after it’s been removed from the MLS, then you’ll need to contact its Customer Care team to have it taken down. Realtor.com sources listings from MLS, and only agents can access listings through the site’s professional dashboard.
Removing your house from the market: It happens, just think it through
It’s always better if you get your listing right the first time or don’t have to make a snap reversal in your plans to sell your house. But there’s no need for time travel to undo a home listing. Life happens. Plans change. Under the right circumstances, taking your house off the market could be the best way to ensure a future sale. Whether you need to renovate or refresh the property—or find a new agent who’s a better fit—it gives you time to reset and reconsider how to move forward.
Just remember, taking your home off the market won’t erase its history entirely. However, so long as you’ve addressed the guidelines of your listing agreement and communicated the situation to your current agent, you won’t face any repercussions for your choice.
Header Image Source: (Anna Sullivan/ Unsplash)